Talking with bluegrass music’s Ricky Skaggs

by Sue Guynn. 0 Comments

Ricky Skaggs is one of the headlining bluegrass artists scheduled to play at the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival this weekend. Skaggs is on the evening schedule May 17.

I talked with Skaggs by phone last week and you can read part of my interview with him in the May 15 edition of 72 Hours, the FNP weekend guide.

Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs

He’s been picking on the mandolin since he was 5 years old, when his father, Hobert Skaggs, gave him his first mandolin. By age 6, he was skilled enough to appear on stage with the man who would later become his mentor, Bill Monroe. Ricky said the mandolin felt right then and it still does.

His recently released album “Cluck Ol’ Hen,” is a live album featuring performances recorded around the country while on tour with Bruce Hornsby. The two artists had collaborated on a studio album a few years before and toured together when they could. While listening to the tapes, Skaggs said he realized they were really, really good and the resulting album is one of the best live albums he’s ever heard.

On his previous album, “Music to My Ears,” he collaborated with the Bee Gees’ legend Barry Gibb on “Soldier’s Son.” Skaggs said that he loves “to bring people into my sandbox,” aka bluegrass music, and that most rock musicians he’s met all want to talk about his success in bluegrass and country music. Skaggs successful career in country music spanned about a dozen years he said before he returned to the music he loved, traditional bluegrass.

Skaggs said his collaboration with Hornsby introduced his fans to Hornsby’s music and Hornsby’s fans to his music, and it made it possible for Skaggs to do some things he hadn’t done before, like appear on late-night TV shows.

Skaggs said he is comfortable working with artists from other genres but the project that really took him out of his comfort zone was his album “Mosaic,” which pushed him “musically way out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I did. It stretched me. It made me trust the music, trust myself.

“Sharon and I were in a Cracker Barrel in Viriginia,” Skaggs said, when a fan walked up and told him that “Mosaic” was one of his favorite Ricky Skaggs’ albums, which surprised him.

He and wife, Sharon White, are working on an album of duets “acoustic with a splash of electric” that will highlight her voice, which Skaggs describes as “gorgeous.” The album he describes as being “a unique sound for the two of us.”

As a bluegrass artist who has witnessed first-hand and made a lot of its history, Skaggs said he likes being able to tell audiences a bit of the history of bluegrass.

I recently read his autobiography written with Eddie Dean and called “Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music.” He’s had some amazing opportunities in his music career and is still at it after 50 years in music. He reflects on the moments in his life, good and bad, that made his name synonymous with bluegrass music. He writes about how he learned to go on faith, not feelings, in his career and life — not always something a record label wants to hear.

“My faith wasn’t like a suit of clothes that you hang in the closet the whole week long and then put on for church Sunday morning,” he writes. “It was how I tried to live my life … I wasn’t a Christian artist, but an artist who’s a Christian, same as I am today.”

If you miss Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder at Gettysburg this weekend, they will be at DelFest in Cumberland, appearing with Bruce Hornsby, the weekend of May 24.

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Tim McGraw attended the Pennzoil premiere of “Breaking Barriers” in New York City this week. “Breaking Barriers” is a 60-minute primetime documentary that tells the unconventional story of a brotherhood that chased their dreams, broke records and influenced the automotive industry in their tireless pursuit for innovation and speed. It premieres at 8 p.m. May 7 on the National Geographic Channel.

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“Breaking Barriers” will give viewers a new appreciation for speed and the people who define it through the lens of Tim McGraw’s intense patriotism, love of cares and never-quite determination.

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Upcoming concerts:


May 17 Ronnie Milsap, H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center, Shippensburg, Pa.

May 17 — WMZQ Fest featuring Dierks Bentley, Chris Young and Chase Rice, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.

May 17 — Aaron Tippin, Veterans Park, Smithsburg

May 26 — Davisson Brothers Band, Boonsboro Carnival

May 28 — Brandy Clark, The Birchmere, Alexandria, Va.

May 30 and 31 — Luke Bryan, Lee Brice and Cole Swindell, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.


June 12 — Brad Paisley, Randy Houser, Leah Turner, Charlie Worsham, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia

June 12 — Thompson Square, American Music Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.

June 14 — Tim McGraw and Kip Moore, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.

June 14 — Willie Nelson, Allison Kraus and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia

June 15 — Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, American Music Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.

June 22 — Zac Brown Band, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.

June 28 — Toby Keith, Krystal Keith and Colt Ford, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.


July 4 — Cole Swindell with Leah Turner and Joe Bachman, 99.9 WFRE Party in the Park, Frederick

July 10 — Scotty McCreery, American Music Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.

July 11 — Kentucky Headhunters, Granite Hill Campground, Gettysburg, Pa.

July 13 — Mickey Gilley and Gene Watson, American Music Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.

July 13 — Brandy Clark, Filene Center at Wolf Trap, Vienna, Va.

July 25 — Jason Aldean, Tyler Farr and Florida Georgia Line, Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

July 27 — Darius Rucker, Wolf Trap Filene Center, Vienna, Va.

July 31 — James Taylor, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.


Aug. 2 — Rascal Flatts and Sheryl Crow, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.

Aug. 2 — Confederate Railroad, Clear Spring Fairgrounds, Clear Spring

Aug. 2 — Rascal Flatts, Gloriana, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.

Aug. 16 — Tyler Farr, Clarke County Fair, Berryville, Va.

Aug. 23 — Danielle Bradberry and The Swon Brothers, from NBC’s “The Voice” Season 4, E-ventplex at the Frederick Fairgrounds for the Family FUNomenon

Aug. 23 — Miranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett, Jiffy Lube Live

Aug. 28 — The Band Perry, Filene Center at Wolf Trap, Vienna, Va.


Sept. 6 — Lady Antebellum with Joe Nichols, York Fair, York, Pa.

Sept. 13 — Hunter Hayes, York Fair, York, Pa.

Sept. 13 — FMX Motorcycle Show, The Great Frederick Fair

Sept. 13 — Brantley Gilbert, The Great Frederick Fair

Sept. 14 — Kenny Rogers, The Great Frederick Fair

Sept. 15  and 16 — Truck/tractor pulling, The Great Frederick Fair

Sept. 17 — Demolition Derby, The Great Frederick Fair

Sept. 18 — Chris Young and opener Cassadee Pope, The Great Frederick Fair

Sept. 19 — TBA later, The Great Frederick Fair

Sept. 20 — STYX, The Great Frederick Fair

Sept. 20 — Brad Paisley and Charlie Worsham, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va.

Sept. 25 and 27 — Sam Bush, Watermelon Park, Berryville, Va.


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